Over the past several decades, a number of high profile drug addiction stories have made headlines around the globe. These cases have involved famous athletes, powerful politicians and some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Sometimes these stories have ended tragically, with the death or incarceration of the individual in question, while others have enjoyed redemption and recovery at the end of their tale.

Here is a look at some of the most famous drug addiction cases from the past 50 years.

Kurt Cobain

The lead singer of the world’s biggest rock band of the 1990’s was also a lifelong heroin addict whose problem only worsened as his fame grew. Unable to handle the pressures that accompany success, Cobain secluded himself in his sprawling Washington estate, overdosed on heroin and then committed suicide via self-inflicted gunshot wound.

River Phoenix

During his brief life, River Phoenix enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom and a devastating drug addiction that would eventually kill him. After habitual cocaine and heroin use since he was in his teens, Phoenix would succumb to a drug overdose from a speedball (cocaine and heroin mixture) outside of the famous Viper Room nightclub on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, California.

Tim Allen

During the 1990’s, Tim Allen was one of the most beloved stars on television. His smash hit show Home Improvement was number one in the ratings almost every season of its existence. What many fans did not know was that Allen overcame a very serious cocaine addiction, one that would actually lead him to trouble with law enforcement, before enjoying mainstream success. Tim Allen is an excellent example of a celebrity who had the strength and support system to overcome drug addiction in a setting that makes recovery very difficult.

Elvis Presley

When Elvis was young, he was a polite, clean cut young man. Although many parents saw his hip gyrations and racy (for the time) lyrics as signs of the collapse of modern society, he was actually quite tame by modern standards. Then Elvis went into the US Army and began taking amphetamines. When he returned to civilian life, he developed a prescription drug addiction that included practically every drug found a pharmacist’s shelf. After decades of drug dependence, Elvis died of an overdose with a shocking fourteen different drugs in his system.

Janis Joplin

One of the most iconic figures of the 1960’s, Janis Joplin’s voice was a familiar part of the counterculture scene of that decade. However, Joplin also battled alcoholism and drug addiction throughout her life. She was a heavy drinker and a developed a strong heroin habit as well. These factors would eventually lead to her death of a heroin overdose combined with complications from alcohol intake.

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